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Old April 7th, 2012, 12:15 PM   #1
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How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

I'm in contact with the owner of a dance institute that will have a dance recital in a few months and I need to know how much to charge for this. Basically there will be three recitals for three different age groups of children and teenagers, of which the first two are about two hours together and will be sold in one DVD. The third recital will be two and a half hours and will be sold as another DVD.

My equipment for this will be two Canon XF100s and it will be edited in Edius, the pro version. The total recording time will be about five and a half to six hours, and obviously it will take a lot of time to edit since it's multicam.

For what she tells me, there would be approx. 125 parents purchasing the first disc, and about 90 purchasing the second one. Of course I would have to produce all these discs, which means cases, printable media, a good quality paper for the covers, and most expensive of all, ink.

What is a good base price to charge for each of these discs? I want to give this person a good price because I can get more business from her, both for more recitals as well as other types of events, but at the same time I don't want to end up working for almost nothing.

Separate from this, am I supposed to charge tax on each of these DVDs? I live in North Carolina, if that's of any help. I plan on going to the tax state agency on Monday to find out more, but I wanted to get an idea from other videographers because when you go to government agencies in my experience you can either get a helpful person or one that will basically expect you to know almost everything and you have to pry the information out of them.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 01:30 PM   #2
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

It's a physical product, so I think you'll have to charge tax? At least that's the general interpretation of "sales tax" in most locations.

I'd suggest that doing 90+ discs you look into mastering and outsourcing the copies. I'm looking into that for a similar job, and having done one that went from "a 'few' copies" to nearly 100... I don't particularly want to burn and print that many again if possible, though it's right on the margin. If I'm delivering a full DVD/case/liner, I'd definitely send it out. Even if the cost were lower in materials, the TIME to produce all those copies is substantial!

As far as charging, you may or may not charge up front for the actual shoot, but you'll definitely want to set up how the disc sales will be handled, and usually the discs will sell for $25 and up, see if you can get a feel for what the going rate is, as I'm sure local economies affect how many sales you'll get. $30-35 is pretty common from my research. Have a way to take orders that day, and probably a "afterthought" web order form.

IF I take on any of these, I'd slap together a simple order form that I can put on a couple small laptoips to manage the orders, and give some sweet "multiple copy" discounts so that they buy for the friends and family that can't attend - your incremental cost should be negligible if you ousource the end product production.

That should give you some ideas!
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Old April 7th, 2012, 02:37 PM   #3
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

If she tells you 125 - then expect that number to drop considerably if you try to get too much. Don't underestimate how long it takes to print discs and the case inserts - If I'm doing less than 50, I'll probably print them myself, but more than 50 I'll pay a printer. If I go above this figure it's probably simpler to also get them duplicated by a firm who specialise in this too. I don't think we can really advise you until you've found out how much the production costs. If they also cost more than USD15 - about 10 UKP - then people won't buy them, they will buy one and then burn a copy for their friends - a real pain!

If this is a hobby business, then your time may not matter, so just your costs and a bit of a profit. Here in the UK, we don't have sales taxes as you have them in the US - unless you turn over around $100,000 then our VAT @20% doesn't get added.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 03:45 PM   #4
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

Yes, you will need to charge sales tax. Or, you could sell them wholesale to the dance studio, in which case I believe they would be responsible for charging/collecting the sales tax. In this case you get paid for a set quantity by the studio and they have to contend with retail sale. Under no condition would I go the consignment route. With the quantity you have been given I would have them duplicated. I use discmakers.com which has done a good job for me. You can get them to duplicate, print on DVD and jacket, case and shrink wrap for about $300 per 100. You can also design your artwork online. Here is a link Short-run CD, DVD, & Blu-ray Duplication Products by Disc Makers
As for price, if you are selling to the studio $10 each and they resell for $15-$20, sounds about right to me.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 06:13 PM   #5
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

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Originally Posted by Mark Williams View Post
Yes, you will need to charge sales tax. Or, you could sell them wholesale to the dance studio, in which case I believe they would be responsible for charging/collecting the sales tax. In this case you get paid for a set quantity by the studio and they have to contend with retail sale. Under no condition would I go the consignment route.
As for price, if you are selling to the studio $10 each and they resell for $15-$20, sounds about right to me.
Sorry, which one would be consignment? Selling them wholesale or selling directly to the parents? But wouldn't the final amount of the tax be the same in the end? I mean, if I charge the institute a fixed amount based on how many DVDs they need, I would have to charge tax based on that amount, if I sell directly to the parents I would have to charge tax on each DVD. In the end, it would be the same, right?

I wouldn't sell them to the studio for $10, that would be like giving them away. Keep in mind that I'm not getting paid for anything else, I will only make what I charge for those DVDs. Besides, people pay $20 for a movie, they would be happy to pay at least $30 for their kids on a good quality video. If I have to set a price for what that's worth, I'd be selling them at $50 each and $70 for the Blu-ray. I just want to give them a low price for the first time as a promotion, but I don't think I could go lower than $30, keeping in mind that I will have to be there for a whole afternoon, and then several hours of editing over several days.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 06:28 PM   #6
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

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Originally Posted by Mark Williams View Post
I use discmakers.com which has done a good job for me.
By the way, did you ever send them masters that required the copies to be made on dual layer DVDs? I can't find that anywhere on their website, and the step by step quote system doesn't even ask for that. Dual layer DVDs are more expensive than single layer ones, so I couldn't believe they would quote the same price for mass duplication for both single and dual.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 08:32 PM   #7
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

I'd recommend this chart to figure out your hourly or day rate.
It includes all costs of running your business, your personal expenses, etc.
FreelanceSwitch Hourly Rate Calculator

Depending on your state laws, generally selling a product may involve local, city, state, sales tax. Checking with your state and city agencies is a good idea.

Keep in mind the issues of copyright if they are dancing to music that you don't have the sync rights to. Also choreography can be copyrighted as well. If the music composition, performance, choreography were all done by students you should still get permission from the creators. You may also want to get permission from the students performing as well.

I once had a client who came to me with a horrible story in which a piece she composed, choreographed, danced in was, 20 years later, recreated by someone who had participated in the original event an obtained the recordings distributed after the event. The recreation achieved some financial success and there was a very ugly lawsuit counter suit.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 08:57 PM   #8
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

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Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
Keep in mind the issues of copyright if they are dancing to music that you don't have the sync rights to. Also choreography can be copyrighted as well. If the music composition, performance, choreography were all done by students you should still get permission from the creators. You may also want to get permission from the students performing as well.
Recently I had the chance to talk to someone from a national company that hires videographers from several cities to do mostly wedding videos and I asked him what were they doing about the current lawsuits from the RIAA to wedding videographers, since I understood that by law you couldn't even include the songs you record with the camera's microphone without getting the rights, and since those rights are in the thousands for each song, you would have to either mute or not include any part with any music from the DJ.

He told me that they had consulted with their lawyers and it's not so drastic. He said that according to the lawyers that looked into it, the videographer would be breaking the law by adding a copyrighted song to the video to do the highlights, or some other use, but that the music captured with the cameras, as long as it is for private use, it's not a problem. I asked him if the same applied to school plays and dance recitals and he said yes, as long as it's for private viewing. I assume the thing gets complicated if you put that video online somewhere, but then it's a matter of how smart or stupid the music label is. The smart ones have an arrangement with You Tube so that when the song is detected, they place a link to buy the song, which makes the copyright owner lots more money and doesn't ruin anybody. The not so smart ones sue the videographer, making his life hell and preventing the creator of the song from cashing in big bucks from selling the song online.

If at some point I get a lot of extra money I will try to check with an attorney directly, but at least knowing that a major company that is in the wedding video business got that information from a lawyer puts me at ease a little bit. If you think about it, if you needed sync rights for every single piece of music that is played at a wedding, dance recital or school plays, it would be the end of the video business for most videographers, and everybody would hate the music labels because wedding videos couldn't exist in more than a barebones form where the beginning and end of the ceremony is muted, almost nothing from the party, DJs would have to be aware not to play any music at all when they're saying something important that will have to be on the video, such as announcing the bride and groom or their parents, etc, etc.

In the same way, parents would rarely ever have the chance to see their kids on a dance recital or school play, since most of them don't have original songs.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 10:02 PM   #9
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

Actually many venues (such as wedding halls) pay an annual fee for performance rights which may allow cover bands and DJs to play music for example. That's not the same as sync rights.

Yes there are arguments that if the music is incidental to what you are shooting it may be OK but that wouldn't prevent a copyright holder from suing and arguing that the music is primary and not incidental.

Also note "private" use might mean mom shooting their son/daughter but might not be someone shooting and selling copies.

Yes, I think the YouTube way of handling things is smart but the decision is in the hands of the copyright holder to accept that.

My example above is that even entirely student created pieces with their own original music and choreography can result in a lawsuit. You'd still want to get permission from the creator/owner.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 10:10 PM   #10
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

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Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
My example above is that even entirely student created pieces with their own original music and choreography can result in a lawsuit. You'd still want to get permission from the creator/owner.
In an ideal world, maybe. But if every videographer that records a dance recital and sells it to the parents would have to get sync rights to about 40 songs, for starters it would cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and it would take months to obtain them, so there would be no videos from dance recitals or school plays. And yes, the institute I'm doing this for pays an annual fee to ASCAP based on the number of students. When the music labels come up with a smart plan to charge videographers a reasonable fee to use copyrighted music, both captured through the mikes as well as from CDs to add to the production value, we'll all be happy to comply.

Still, as far as we know, the only case of videographers being sued by the labels is because they used a song ripped from an original CD to do a highlights video, and only when that video ended up online and went [annoying term coming] viral.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 11:15 PM   #11
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

Sebastian, so this an annual event? In giving you the estimated DVD sales sounds like your client has done this before.

If so, try and find out what happened previously, who videoed it last year? Did it fall in a heap? Why?

eg: Did they deliver faulty DVDs, did they outsource them with a crappy company, not spot check each one then not replace them? not give refunds?
Did they take down payments for DVDs and not deliver? Not pay sales tax or copyright fees? Are there any legal actions pending?

Find all this out independantly, because if it IS an annual event and any of the above applies .. then it's probably the same audience as last year, and those DVD sales estimates could be way off. If the client doesn't co-operate in confirming any of this, be careful.

If you do take the gig, counter the above with positive prior advertising and personal contact with some principal dancers parents.

It'll make it hard, but take orders and get full down payment+postage before the audience leaves the venue. And I'd outsource the DVDs too. Good luck.

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Last edited by Allan Black; April 8th, 2012 at 03:02 AM.
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Old April 8th, 2012, 12:49 AM   #12
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
Separate from this, am I supposed to charge tax on each of these DVDs? I live in North Carolina, if that's of any help.
I can't tell you anything about North Carolina, but I can tell you how it works for me here in Minnesota.

First, you don't "charge" sales tax, you collect it. Small difference, but I like to make sure my clients know I have nothing to do with how much they're paying for sales tax, they need to take it up with the government if they disagree! :)

Second, it doesn't matter if I sell a single copy to an individual, or sell a box full and call it "wholesale". Unless they have a tax exemption certificate, I have to collect tax. Since the dance studio is probably not licensed as a reseller, you'll likely have to collect tax no matter who pays you.

In MN it pretty easy. I simply have to collect tax and track it. At the end of the year, I fill out an online form (about six questions) and pay the amount I've collected.

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
and most expensive of all, ink
Well I don't know what printer you're using, but I've duplicated a crap load of DVDs in the past six years and I'll typically get 300-500 disks from one set of ink cartridges. Even at $50-$70 per set of ink, that's only 10 to 20 cents per disk. Just keep your labels simple and tastful. Nowadays I don't even bother duplicating more than a few copies in-house. The rest I farm out to Kunaki. They're fast, dirt cheap, and look much better than anything I can do here.
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Old April 8th, 2012, 08:00 AM   #13
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
Recently I had the chance to talk to someone from a national company that hires videographers from several cities to do mostly wedding videos and I asked him what were they doing about the current lawsuits from the RIAA to wedding videographers, since I understood that by law you couldn't even include the songs you record with the camera's microphone without getting the rights, and since those rights are in the thousands for each song, you would have to either mute or not include any part with any music from the DJ.
...
You are getting bad advice from the wedding company - in fact there have been a number of suits filed in recent months against event videographers for using unlicensed music - if you were hit with one could you afford the legal fees to defend it, even if you WERE ultimately found to be in the right?. In any case, what they are referring to is called "incidental use" of the music, where it just happens to be audible in the background while something else - for instance, reception guests recording congratulations to the couple - is being captured on the video. Remove the music and there nothing material missing from the video. But that's not the case of the music accompanying the stage performance of a dance piece. There the music is a material part of the performance, not at all incidental. By capturing the performance with its audio intact (and shooting a dance recital wouldn't make sense without recording the music), you are making a copy of the music which you are then selling to your customers, ie, the parents. It's exactly the same as if you were recording a CD of a band performing covers of popular songs and sold copies of the CDs to the audience in the lobby of the venue after the show - you're going to owe royalties and/or license fees to the music's copyright owners.

"When the music labels come up with a smart plan to charge videographers a reasonable fee to use copyrighted music, both captured through the mikes as well as from CDs to add to the production value, we'll all be happy to comply." They are charging a reasonable fee. You get to put what you consider to be a reasonable value on your own creative work when you set your rates. They get to put what they consider to be a reasonable value on their creative work when they set their licensing fees. You have the right to withhold your services from those who refuse to pay your fee because they consider it to be too expensive. Similarly music creators and publishers have the right to deny you permission to benefit from the use of THEIR work if you refuse to pay their fee when you feel it's too expensive. You're not obligated to work for what your potential clients consider reasonable when it's not up to what YOU consider reasonable. Both you and the music folks have the absolute right to set the value of your work in the marketplace and tell people who want to use it they can take it or leave it. But if you take it, you're obligated to pay for it. Remember you're not doing your videos out of the goodness of your heart, you're doing it to make the best living out of it that you can. Similarly they're not producing music out of some altruistic devotion to Art, they're doing it to make money. You'd expect them to pay you your requested fee if you shot their wedding, give them the same consideration in return.

"... it would take months to obtain them [sync rights], so there would be no videos from dance recitals or school plays." Many of the licenses schools sign with the publishers of the plays they perform (and they DO have to sign contracts with them and pay performance royalties) explicitly prohibit the making or sale of any videotapes or recordings of the performances either by the school or by members of the audience with the occasional exception of allowing the creation of a single copy to be retained by the school for archival and instructional purposes.
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Old April 8th, 2012, 09:32 AM   #14
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

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"When the music labels come up with a smart plan to charge videographers a reasonable fee to use copyrighted music, both captured through the mikes as well as from CDs to add to the production value, we'll all be happy to comply." They are charging a reasonable fee. You get to put what you consider to be a reasonable value on your own creative work when you set your rates.
Steve, I don't know what the situation is in Canada, but it's not like that here. Getting the permit to use one song is in the thousands of dollars, so imagine if I tell the dance institute their video is going to cost $80,000 they are going to laugh on my face. Plus the institute already pays ASCAP for the music, what difference does it make if they get a video from the performance that uses that music? It's not music piracy if the institute pays their fee and then the parents get a video from that day with their kids dancing. The music may be important to the dance performance, but it's not important to me or anybody else. The focus is on the kids' performance. Obviously there would be a difference if I sold these videos to the general public that don't have kids there, in that case I'd definitely have to charge them an assload but that would be no different from selling a movie or a documentary.

Same thing for wedding videos. Hardly any part of the wedding goes without music being played by the DJ. Sometimes it's at low volume and it fits the definition of incidental, but sometimes it's really loud and well above the people's voices, so in theory that wouldn't be considered incidental. So what, are you going to mute that? One hour of people dancing on the screen with no sound?

As far as that person told me elaborating on what the lawyers had told him, the differences are in that the video is made for private viewing of the couple and their family, and also that the videographer doesn't have a choice regarding the music the DJ plays. The problem comes when the videographer adds a song from a CD to enhance the production.
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Old April 8th, 2012, 09:36 AM   #15
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Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

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You are getting bad advice from the wedding company - in fact there have been a number of suits filed in recent months against event videographers for using unlicensed music.
That's right, but show me a testimony from a videographer that got sued for music that he captured through the mikes as part of the wedding. All I read was about videographers adding their own music to the video in post, like the famous Coldplay video. Interestingly enough, I still see some wedding highlights videos to Coldplay songs on colleagues' websites.
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